Head of State should make call, not P.M., La'auli says
The decision not to appoint a Deputy Prime Minister should come from the Head of State, not the Prime Minister.
That's the opinion of Member of Parliament for Gagaifomauga No.3, La'auliealemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, who has thrown his support behind claims the decision by Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi not to appoint a deputy Prime Minister is unconstitutional.
The position of the Deputy Prime Minister became vacant after veteran Member of Parliament for Lotofaga, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, resigned two weeks ago.
In the Constitution under article 32 b.a), it states that the Head of State shall act on the advice of the Prime Minister appoint one of the Ministers appointed under sub-clause (b) to be Deputy Prime Minister.
"This action should come from the Head of State, under his advice as Prime Minister," said La'auli. "Someone should take up the role and they should not leave work unattended."
La'auli was mindful that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, that Fiame left behind is not a small ministry. Therefore, he should appoint someone to take over the Ministry too.
"This Ministry is not a small ministry, it's a huge ministry. Especially in times of need, the environment has got a special role play in the COVID, S.O.E. (States of Emergency), and what's happening around us," he said.
"So I believe he should've considered it carefully and pick someone to take up this role. The other thing is, how can Cabinet sail incomplete like that in times of need?
"He needs a lot of support, and people he can lean on for advice in times of need. Someone should take up that load, he has to consider that, again.
"No man remains strong forever and no one can stand on his own forever. If the Sa'o Fa'apito (Fiame) carried this heavy load during her tenure, someone has to be there to help him out.
"That is what I think because I don't know why and how he came up with that decision."
La'auli said Tuilaepa's decision is sending out a message that "he doesn't trust anyone to take up this role."
"It seems like he has nobody to trust to take over the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. That's the same for a Deputy Prime Minister. There are 44 Members there to choose from.
"We always hear him saying that all those who in Parliament are laui'a (big fish). If he is honest, he should make a decision."
La'auli went on to accuse the P.M. of being scared by not choosing someone to be his Deputy.
"He always claims that this government is not scared to make a tough decision, but it looks like he is now scared to make a decision on who should become the Deputy Prime Minister. In my opinion, this is not healthy for Samoa.
"This is because another big load will be added to him. Do you know what happens when you keep adding things on to someone? Things will not be done properly, it will become incomplete. Somebody has to be there to take over that Ministry. I feel for him because he is carrying a heavy load. But what for?
"Why can't he delegate (the role)? That's the big question. Is there nobody there to trust to dedicate the load to?"
He reiterated that the Head of State should make the "decision", not Tuilaepa.
La'auli also questioned the exclusion of the members of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party in decision making for the government.
"I am still wondering where the members of the party are. I say this time and time again, that these issues are not discussed (by the party), the Prime Minister alone make these calls. This is another way to prove what I have been saying that it is a one-party control, one-party system, control by one man.
"There's an Associate Minister (for M.N.R.E.), why can't they choose the Associate Minister to lead the Ministry? This position has to be replaced by somebody else, somebody that applicable and suits the positions, and that should be done."
That's not all, La'auli went as far as accusing the P.M. over favoritism, claiming that Tuilaepa is hesitant to select a Deputy Prime Minister because it might cause a division within the H.R.P.P. party.
"As I said before, the Prime Minister has his favorites (M.P.). There are people there (H.R.P.P.), whom he likes and dislikes.
"For me, as a founder of the party, the policy of the party, it goes through seniority. They look at seniority members and seniority former Ministers. There are people like that inside, so why is hard to make a decision?
"There are people there who are appropriate for the role, whom he can trust. On the female side, there is a female candidate who was a former Minister, and she is one of the founders of the party, she's there.
"In terms of seniority members, there is a senior member next to him so why won't he do the right thing?
"But the problem is, he has favorites. Even if you are a senior member, like what happened to me, I was a senior member, but if he doesn't like you, he will not do it.
"There are other new members, that are new, and he loves them, protects them, cares for them. And that's why he is scared to pick them because once he picks someone (new), the senior members will walk away."
An email was sent to the Press Secretariat for a response from the Prime Minister regarding the claims made by La'auli.
Nanai Lave Tuiletufuga acknowledged receiving queries from this newspaper saying: "Noted...The issues are very much the same raised by Olo and Lanuola also requested comments from the PM over the weekend
"Nonetheless will give the PM your queries and will let you know," the email reads.